Back in July we got excited by news that good fish were no longer to be discarded, dead, from boats. But this is politics and the wrangling continues.
Under the European Union (EU) quota system, fishers had to discard any catch that was deemed too much. It was species-specific. So if you’d caught, for example, your cod (Gadus morhua) quota, but more haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) or whatever were listed on your paperwork, you could keep on fishing. But oops! you had to chuck cod back into the sea. By which time those cod would be dead. Disgusting, wasn’t it? Unless you were a shark or a gull, in which case you got a tasty meal.
Nobody could make sense of the ‘discards’ practice when the overfished North Sea cod was barely starting to recover. It was a law on paper written, seemingly, by people who’d never fished in their lives. It wouldn’t have been much use to write ‘No Cod Need Apply’ on the nets.
Celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was so offended that he waged war on discards in Hugh’s Fish Fight. And in July this year, he won!
My fellow blogger Eivind Burkow at The Coastal House said that fishing discards had been thrown overboard by the EU. Great joy for those of us who love the land and sea, and who love our cod and chip suppers too. But the story continues.
Another of my fellow bloggers, Finn Holding at The Naturephile, is in contact with Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Chris Davies. Mr Davies is part of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee. So he’s part of the wrangling about discards.
Here’s Mr Davies’ update on the Common Fisheries Policy.
Mr Davies’ letter is as digestible as overcooked fish, isn’t it? I’m glad not to be a politician! But we can understand one part. The letter says it’s by no means certain that discards really are discarded.